Japanese studio Toho has secured a 25% stake in Fifth Season, the US production and distribution company behind Severance and Tokyo Vice.
The $225m investment was made through Toho International, the US subsidiary of the studio behind current box office hit Godzilla Minus One, and South Korea’s CJ ENM will retain a majority stake in Fifth Season. CJ ENM paid $875m for an 80% holding in Fifth Season, formerly known as Endeavor Content, in January 2022. Endeavor Group Holdings remains a strategic shareholder.
The investment will see Toho, Fifth Season and CJ ENM collaborate on producing content for the international market as well as in Japan. Productions to emerge from the collaboration will go through Fifth Season’s distribution network.
The company was advised on the transaction by The Raine Group, which acted as exclusive financial advisor, and O’Melveny as legal advisor.
Fifth Season co-CEOs Graham Taylor and Chris Rice said the move was “an excellent and unique opportunity to build on Fifth Season’s momentum and solidify our leadership in the global independent film and television space”.
Toho president Matsuoka Hiro said he hoped to see Japanese projects and IP cross into the global market as a result of the new partnership. “This collaboration will be a significant step towards challenging the global market, not only in the field of animation where Toho has excelled, but also in the realm of live-action content,” he added.
Toho has Godzilla Minus One on current release and held third place at the US box office over the weekend with $8.3m for a $25.3m total since its release on December 1. The film has now topped $52m worldwide. The studio is also a distributor in Japan and has a 30% market share as an exhibitor with 740 screens across the country.
Fifth Season has William Oldroyd’s Eileen on release through Neon while upcoming features include Stephen Chobsky’s Nonnas and Jan Komasa’s Anniversary.
Prior films include 80 For Brady and Book Club, Sundance Audience Award winner Cha Cha Real Smooth, John Carney’s Flora And Son, Michael Bay’s Ambulance, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s awards winner The Lost Daughter.
On the TV side, the company is behind Apple TV+ show Severance directed and produced by Ben Stiller, with season two in production. The slate also includes Max’s Tokyo Vice; Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers starring Nicole Kidman; and Hulu’s Life & Beth starring Amy Schumer, all three of which are also in production on season two
New series in production include Chief Of War with Jason Momoa, Lady In The Lake directed by Alma Har’el and starring Natalie Portman, and The Savant starring Jessica Chastain.